Wondering where your taxpayer dollars are going? Well, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) could have spent them on a Star Trek parody video.
The agency admitted Friday that it spent $60,000 to make the Star Trek parody video — and a spoof of Gilligan’s Island — for the opening of a 2010 training and leadership conference, the Associated Press reported.
On Tuesday, William Shatner — who portrayed Captain James T. Kirk in the original Star Trek series — tweeted his disappointment with the agency via Twitter, Mashable reported.
So I watched that IRS video. I am appalled at the utter waste of US tax dollars.—
William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) March 26, 2013
About six minutes long, the Star Trek video features an elaborate set depicting the Enterprise space shuttle’s control room with IRS employees playing characters, such as Captain Kirk and Spock. The video’s storyline is centered on the spaceship approaching the planet “Notax,” which has a high incidence rate of alien identity theft.
Despite the production costs, the Star Trek parody is bland and lacks any good punch lines. Vanity Fair noted that “the most insulting aspect of the video” was that the IRS couldn’t even pull off “a semi-respectable production value for its money.” The agency should have recruited top screenwriters and a high-profile cast to make taxpayers’ dollars worthwhile, the magazine argued.
The IRS apologized for its poor judgment. In a statement to the AP, an agency spokesperson said, “The IRS recognizes and takes seriously our obligation to be good stewards of government resources and taxpayer dollars.” Both sketches were shot at an IRS studio in New Carrollton, Md. (a suburb of Washington D.C.) that regularly produces informational videos for taxpayers. In fact, the IRS’s YouTube channel boasts more than 2.5 million views.
Rep. Charles Boustany Jr. (R-Louisiana), chairman of the U.S. House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee, demanded in a Mar. 20 letter that the IRS release a copy of the videos to the committee. Congressional investigators, however, determined that the Gilligan’s Island one was a legitimate training tool and didn’t release it, according to the AP. But CBS News filed a Freedom of Information Act to get both videos released, arguing, “The studio may have cost taxpayers more than $4 million dollars last year alone.”
The agency claims, however, that the Gilligan’s Island video – a 16-minute introduction to a 12-hour training series for IRS employees – saved taxpayers an estimated $1.5 million in 2011, money that would have otherwise been spent on personally training employees. See for yourself:
And while we’re on the subject: remember, Apr. 15 is the deadline for filing federal tax returns.